I must've played Sim City & Populous prior, but something about the platformer genre and the level of indirection combined perfectly to make this game genuinely unique.
However, the core conceit of Lemmings—the feeling of herding a bunch of autonomous agents around, that will do whatever they like (to your detriment) unless you restrict them—is still pretty unexplored. It never spawned its own direct subgenre, unlike its cousins Tower Defense and MOBA. There were a few attempts—I think from Nintendo there was Mario & Wario, and of all things Krusty's Fun House. But generally there's still a lot of unexplored "herding game" mechanics-space.
I wonder why we don't see more of it on mobile? Herding things by tapping them seems obvious.
Maybe it's more popular than you realized?
Lemmings stands out because it's got you herding around something besides sheep. There was a burst of Lemmings-likes on the Amiga that had you herding various other little hapless people, I think there were even a few that gave your little helpless people weapons and made you herd them around to defeat an enemy horde.
Whistler's Brother (Br0derbund, c64/Atari - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT32TokTYqc) definitely felt like it was an earlier member of the same genre despite you only having to herd one guy around. Possibly because, like Lemmings, it's from a side view.
It feels like I see a Lemmings-like (side view herder, probably without any avatar of the player) every few years. Always from teams with small budgets; nobody has figured out how to justify an AAA herder. I think the last attempt at that I heard of was Core's "Herdy Gerdy" on the PS2. (Which now that I dig up a video of I think I may need to emulate. It looks SUPER CUTE and SUPER CHILL. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP24_EYuKJE)
So, like Myth: The Fallen Lords? I loved that game, almost as much as I loved Lemmings.
If it weren’t for those titles roughly between 1991 and 1994 I’m quite certain I wouldn’t have started to get deeper into DOS and pick up programming later on (remember messing with config.sys and HIMEM.SYS, EMM386 etc to fine-tune memory? using memmaker was so lame :) ).
Last year I was fortunate enough to be working on Meerkatz Challenge, a heavily Lemmings inspired puzzle platformer:
I think some of the original Lemmings concepts and controls simply don’t translate to platforms with touch input and high resolution graphics. Too bad that the PC versions don't seem to be available on archive.org.
The thing I remember about lemmings was the frantic feeling of them just pouring in and having to time things right.
News article with several pictures of the pillar: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/dundee/gallery-lemmin...
Since I was about five years old when my parents bought Lemmings, I remember pieces like "Dance of the Little Swans" as "Lemmings music".
I think it's a better choice than 60s/70s music would have been. It doesn't date, and it's less annoying to hear on repeat for four hours straight...
If you're interested in hearing them, I reverse engineered  the music format a while back and converted them to ProTracker modules .
More fool me.
There was a kind of pixel preciseness with the original lemmings that contributed a lot to this being great, but that somehow seems to have got lost in newer versions..
The same thing happened to many games, not the least of which being Worms, where pretty much all of the modern versions are at most mediocre.
It also have one of the best game theme songs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D4Yr3ebNoQ
You really haven't lived until you've died by a holy banana donkey armageddon nuke. (Actually, it made some balance fixes cool, like making certain guns more precise/accurate, or to make some more interesting/tactical.)
Because of The Fiddler, I never could understand why there wouldn't merely be oodles more weapons with each new game. Seemed like a no brainer. Oh well.
The most amazing thing about it was how you could successfully set traps for your opponent even though they were looking at the same screen but a few inches to the left or right.
Nothing better than them working so hard on getting over some obstacle only to scroll back to the beginning and see most of their lemmings disappearing into a big hole in the ground.
Yeah it was great on the Amiga! Not sure if it worked well on other machines where you could not connect more than a mouse, though !
If I remember correctly, the trick here was to not start the mouse driver (mouse.com), but let Settlers' internal mouse driver have control :)
I have no idea about two player Lemmings in DOS. I have never played it, at least.
You should give Lix  a try, it's like Lemmings but with up-to-8-player networked multiplayer, and it's open source (CC0). You can probably find some people to play with in #lix on irc.quakenet.org if you're patient.
I always wondered what kind of challenges that imposed on the sprite-based consoles of the day like the NES and especially something like the Gameboy.
(I think! I remember, with a friend, implementing our own version of this, and that's definitely how our version worked.)
So this is less realistic than other ways of implementing lemming behaviours, and easier to implement than some kind of more 'correct' collision approach, but gave the gameplay a very nice precise feel.
Equally mind expanding - didn't know that DMA went on to create GTA!
1836 The Mirror of Literature https://books.google.com/books?id=amBEAQAAMAAJ&pg=RA1-PA21&d...
1841 Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh https://books.google.com/books?id=tC4_AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA449&dq=%...
1874 Popular Science https://books.google.com/books?id=_B8DAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA347&dq=l...
1877 Popular Science https://books.google.com/books?id=gisDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA404&dq=p...
1947 Life Magazine https://books.google.com/books?id=bkgEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA81&dq=%2...
1952 Boys Life https://books.google.com/books?id=QXO4WXYxnAwC&pg=PA50&dq=%2...
1953 Natural Religion and Christian Theology https://books.google.com/books?id=j0yEUu8A5hEC&pg=PA116&dq=l...
1953 Boys' Life https://books.google.com/books?id=z-p67xyiQpQC&pg=PA4&dq=%22...
Where "some reason" is because TV told us so. I wonder where the original myth came from. Obviously the population fluctuation gave rise to it - but someone decided they were committing mass suicide. I'd love to know how much of a "fact" it was before the Disney piece.
‘Lemmings 3 was a bit crap … more to end our commitment to Psygnosis than actually do a good game,’ admits Dailly.
You gotta give him credit for his honesty. Lemmings was one of many titles that didn't survive the transition to 3D unscathedly. I think it was because a lot of time went into the engine instead of cute handdrawn 2D graphics and map design. Also the 3D camera movements were finicky, while in 2D you could just scroll.
1 - http://pingus.seul.org/welcome.html
If you were already a keen programmer, what would software engineering classes in the 80s have given you?
> to the chagrin of his parents, who saw a better future in his hardware expertise.
Perhaps rightly so, he could have invented mobile telephony for instance :)
A lot of us keen programmers had just learned our way ourselves, and had very little exposure to existing research on things like data structures (a binary tree is nice!), algorithms (bubble sort is not!) or software engineering practices (yes, you really need a version control system and some automated testing!)
So, software engineering classes could give a lot. I remember how clever I felt as a starting freshman, and how humble I had got in about three years' time when my professor took me through the Compilers class. A lot of education and classes is not really teaching you to know things, it's just to teach you to know how much there is to learn.
I invented bubble sort, independently, as a young self-taught programmer. I remember thinking "Okay, I have a very large list, and I need to sort based on whichever parameter they picked... let's see, how can I accomplish this without running out of memory."
When I learned that sorting was a hot topic in computer science, I remember feeling a little sheepish. When I learned my algorithm was old hat, I felt more sheepish. When I learned it was relatively crap.... Yikes.
(FWIW, I started programming on a ZX Spectrum).
I was also a fan of discrete math.
... he also recalls it was partly funded by royalties
(75p per £25 sale) from DMA’s first two games
The Amiga came with a big box of floppies, one of which was labelled 'Lemmings.'
I don't believe I've ever played Lemmings in color (I'm having trouble picturing it, actually), but it was still pretty amazing in monochrome. Though, my only basis for comparison at the time was the games I'd played on the Apple ][.
There was something magical about that game.
They make great Halloween costumes also.